The Cincinnati Reds (10-15) ended their six game losing streak yesterday with a thrilling win in 11 innings in Pittsburgh. Tonight, they’ll kick off a 10-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants (13-13). For the first time in his career, Johnny Cueto will face off against the Reds tonight. Cueto will face the guy the Reds got back in return for him last summer. Tonight’s matchup will be as fun of a matchup as we have seen to this point in 2016.
You can make the case that with Raisel Iglesias being put on the DL that Brandon Finnegan is now the Reds ace. While that in itself is pretty scary, Finnegan has done a lot of good things to earn that “title.” Finnegan’s peripheral numbers leave some to be desired, but if you take away the 5 earned runs that he gave up in the 7th inning of two starts (you could argue he should have been taken out before either inning started), his numbers would look pretty good.
Finnegan certainly has the stuff to get out MLB hitters. His strikeouts are slightly below league average right now, but he is projected for a much higher total based on his high strikeout numbers at every stop he has made in his short professional career. What is worrisome with Finnegan is the high walk and home run numbers. He will never have success at the MLB level if he walking nearly 5 batters per 9 innings. And when the weather gets warmer, his struggles with giving up the long ball will only increase.
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. Man, I sure do miss Johnny Cueto. While the Reds made the right move trading Cueto last summer, it sure was nice having a guy who every fifth day gave you a great chance to win.
Cueto posted a 3.21 ERA in 1,339 innings with the Reds. Cueto’s 2.25 ERA in 2014 is the second best qualifying ERA in a season in Reds history (only trailing Gary Nolan’s 1.99 ERA in 1972). Cueto is the only qualifying Reds pitcher since Jose Rijo in 1993 to post an ERA under 3.00, and Cueto did so twice (2012 & 2014).
Cueto struggled last season after being traded to the Royals, and pitching in the AL for the first time. He posted a 4.76 ERA/4.06 FIP in 13 starts. He was especially bad in September, posting a 5.68 ERA in 40.1 innings.
Cueto pitched pretty well in the ALDS (3.86 ERA, 13 K, 3 BB in 2 starts), but couldn’t make it out of the third inning in his only start in the ALCS (2.0 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 2 K). Kansas City was certainly concerned with Cueto going into Game 2 of the World Series, but all was forgiven quickly. He threw a complete game, 2-hit masterpiece to give the Royals a 2-0 series lead. Cueto wouldn’t pitch again in a Royals uniform, but his team won the World Series in five games.
Fast-forward to the off-season, and no one knew what to expect for Cueto as a free-agent. Cueto eventually signed a six year, $130 million contract with the Giants in mid-December. He has earned every penny so far for the Giants, posting a 2.65 ERA/2.13 FIP through his first five starts. Pitching in a big ballpark has to be delightful for Cueto, and so far it has been kind to him. He has only allowed 1 HR in 37.1 innings pitched this season.
The Reds hitters are in for a treat tonight. In Cueto’s last start, he threw a complete game shutout against the Padres (9.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K).
|1. Denard Span (CF)
2. Matt Duffy (3B)
3. Buster Posey (C)
4. Hunter Pence (RF)
5. Brandon Belt (1B)
6. Mac Williamson (LF)
7. Brandon Crawford (SS)
8. Kelby Tomlinson (2B)
9. Johnny Cueto (P)
|1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Ivan De Jesus (SS)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
5. Jay Bruce (RF)
6. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
7. Scott Schebler (LF)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Brandon Finnegan (P)
Bryan Price’s first two hitters in his lineup have career OBP of .287 and .288. That should help get a struggling offense going against one of the best pitchers in baseball!
The Giants lineup has been pretty good so far this season. Their team 109 wRC+ is the 7th best in the MLB. The heart of their order has been really good: Buster Posey (.284/.344/.457, 4 HR, 117 wRC+), Hunter Pence (.293/.393/.511, 5 HR, 145 wRC+), and Brandon Belt (.289/.413/.482, 3 HR, 140 wRC+). Pence comes in with 3 HR in his last 7 games.
Joe Panik (.280/.340/.484, 3 HR, 123 wRC+) normally bats second in the Giants lineup, but he has been out since Friday because of a groin injury. Mac Williamson was just recalled up today from AAA for the Giants. He was hitting .355/.382/.629 with 4 HR at AAA-Sacramento. He has played in 13 career big league games.
The Giants bullpen isn’t good either!
The Reds bullpen has been the worst in baseball, and it isn’t even close. The Reds 6.16 ERA and 6.31 FIP are by far the worst in baseball. But the Giants are not great either. Their 4.42 ERA is the 8th worst in baseball, and their 4.01 FIP is the 14th worst. Still, the Giants pen is pretty bad, and they are still about two runs better than the Reds per 9 innings. The Giants bullpen is missing Sergio Romo and George Kontos on the DL.
Injuries, injuries, injuries
It just gets worse and worse. Raisel Iglesias was placed on the DL yesterday because of a right shoulder impingement. Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani suffered recent setbacks, and neither will be ready to pitch this week as previously hoped for. Cozart had leave yesterday’s game with a knee injury, and he is out of the lineup today. Devin Mesoraco is out of the lineup for a 4th straight game because of stiffness in his left shoulder.
nice painful to see Johnny Cueto pitch again at GABP. The Reds hitters could very well be in for a long night. But maybe Cueto will have some jitters facing his former team. Or maybe Brandon Finnegan will come out and show that he was a worth being acquired for Cueto. Either way, it is certainly a fun, intriguing matchup in May to see two guys traded for each other square off. Go Reds!
Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.